Iridescent Riffel: Amid attacks on our rights, transgender Kansans can celebrate being true to ourselves (Column)

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This is for the trans folx in the room.

Last week was excessively long, or as Rep. Brandon Woodard called it, “hate week.” It is important for us to take care of ourselves. And it is important to set boundaries for ourselves as we engage in just going about our daily lives.

We are living proof that supporters of these horrible bills in the Kansas Legislature are wrong. We are proof that there is joy in being transgender, and we are proof that our lives matter just like any other human being.

We are proof of love and authenticity and vulnerability and the ability to overcome obstacles even if they seem to be impossible. We are proof that this love will defy all odds and continue on no matter what.

We’ve always existed, and we always will.

It’s rough right now — so hang in there. To any trans kid who might be reading this right now: You matter, and you are completely valid. You are loved, and we will not stop fighting for you. Please, don’t forget that.

Right now we find ourselves stuck in a dark storm. But we aren’t alone in that storm. Look around. There’s shelter and there’s hope, and there are others who will welcome you inside.

When they disrespect our existence, they will be met with resistance. We will not stop, we cannot stop, and it will take my dying breath for them to take my voice away.

Be authentic in who you are. Don’t let their words get to you, and if you are in need of support, reach out. I’ll share some resources below, and you can always reach out to any of these organizations if you need help in connecting to resources and to support.

Our flag still flies high. We find ourselves in what seems to be a battlefield — a battlefield we did not choose to stand on — a battlefield that was hastily thrown up around us like some sick joke.

Chances are you’ve heard these same words from others. I know that gets so tiring. Sometimes these words feel hollow.

We’re all tired, exhausted, and sometimes we feel alone. I say this as a 25-year-old transgirl, and I’m sharing this message wherever I can because I empathize with many of your experiences.

I’m sharing this because it is important to share your joy and make those connections. Protect your peace. Don’t engage with hateful bigots. Find groups near you — reach out to our coalition — do what makes you happy.

The sun will come out, and when it does there will be a beautiful rainbow for us. For you.

Soon, Loud Lightthe Mainstream Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas will be starting a trans joy series. We want to hear your stories, and we want to support you. If you want to be loud and proud, this opportunity is for you.

If you’re thinking that isn’t for you, that’s totally OK. You don’t have to be loud or proud to be valid in your identity.

We will continue to band together. We will continue to organize, and we will continue to give them hell in the Capitol building until all of our rights are secured. We will continue to share our love and our joy.

We’re a team, and we don’t give up. I’m not a huge one for the sportsball and quite frankly I’m probably the most awkward dork you know. I like to read, play games, go and hang out with my friends. I go and annoy my friends too, and sometimes I make weird noises: Just ask anyone who thought a duck entered the Discord call.

I’m a goof, I’m a nerd, I’m a fighter and most important, I’m me. Being myself has been liberating. Yeah, it’s been tiring sometimes, too.

Surround yourselves with those who love and support you. If you think dipping your toes in activism is in your future, consider reaching out to Loud Light. They love you and they will help you have your voice heard. Let us be courageous and let us be the optimists.

Our hopes and our dreams are far closer than they realize. Your joy, your authenticity, your love for others, and the love of yourself are so wonderfully and inextricably sacred. Be you and be true.

If you need any resources, please reach out to any of the organizations above. And if you find yourself feeling alone and in need of support please consider reaching out to The Trevor Project. You can triple click or triple tap to quickly exit the site. You can connect with a counselor via text by texting START to 678-678 or by calling 1-866-488-7386. These are 24-hour hotlines.

You matter.

— Iridescent Riffel is a graduate student studying higher education administration at the University of Kansas, where she serves as both an academic adviser and assistant complex director. 

Through its opinion section, the Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here. Find how to submit your own commentary to The Lawrence Times here.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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